Transgender students have not been unrepresented in the Wellesley College student body in recent years, but the all-women, selective 4-year liberal arts school has gradually been taking steps to formalize its policies regarding any applicant “who lives as a woman and consistently identifies as a woman,” regardless of her assigned gender at birth. The policy, as stated in the Frequently Asked Questions section of their website, as well as in a letter today to alumnae from Wellesley College President Kim Bottomly, acknowledges societal changes revolving around gender and identification.
The new policy allows the school to move away from evaluating each situation or application on a case-by-case basis and simply lays it on the line: If you say you are a woman, we accept that you are a woman. Welcome to Wellesley College (if you have that near-perfect high school GPA and SATs in the 2100 range).
Policies may change, but the school’s mission statement, “To provide an excellent liberal arts education for women who will make a difference in the world,” remains unchanged. Given that the ethos of the campus oozes leadership, it’s not a surprise that the school felt the need to lead by example when it comes to making a difference in the world, especially surrounding issues of gender. (Officially, local all-women colleges Mt. Holyoke in South Hadley and Simmons in Boston enacted their gender policies first, but let’s not get competitive here.) In addition, there’s no sense in same-sex schools keeping their heads in the sand when it comes to legal matters as well as unique medical and social needs that transgender students may require.
And to those fixated on the physical, um, equipment of the individual, Wellesley College wants you to know that truly it’s all about attitude, not anatomy. Women who identify as men are not eligible for admission to Wellesley College.
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